Value Alert: 2007 Ruffino Modus

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Italian wine - Buy 6 or more bottles and get 50% off shipping with code "grape70"

A couple weeks ago we were discussing a $25 wine Spectator rated 97 points - the 2009 Carlisle Sonoma County Syrah. After appearing in a Wine Spectator Insider email, the wine evaporated from the market as quickly as any I've ever seen. Sometimes it's like that - where a rating comes out of nowhere and the wine has been on the market for a while. Other times the rating has been around for a long time before the wine comes to market. That's been the case with the 2007 Ruffino Modus Toscana.
The $35 Modus received a 96 point rating back in the fall of 2010. There was considerable speculation it might become Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year. (Interesting side note on our Scoop the Spectator contest - the winner recently had a piece of writing published by the magazine - very cool!). The metrics were all there - especially the production level. 7,000 cases of the wine were imported to the US.

The wine ended up with a respectable showing finishing in the Top 25. When a wine has favorable QPR metrics but then ends up not making their Top 100 list it makes me think it didn't show very well when tasted across a wider audience. I liked the 2007 BV Tapestry (93WS/$50) and thought for sure it would make the Top 10. No such luck - it didn't make the Top 100.

The point chasing wine deal hound market hasn't received the 2007 Modus with the kind of enthusiasm the Carlisle garnered. I have a few theories why:
  • The 96 point rating the Modus received kind of came out of nowhere. They've been making the wine since 1997 and the best Spectator rating a prior vintage received was 91. It makes one wonder whether the bottle Suckling tasted got lucky.
  • Speaking of Suckling the rating come out right around the time he was leaving the publication to start his own thing. There was also some conjecture Spectator wouldn't feature the wine favorably to bring attention to a wine he rated.
  • No other major publication rated the wine as highly as Spectator - if they rated it at all. This lack of a second rating reinforced the concerns Spectator's 96 was a fluke. By the way, if the idea of having 2 or more major publications favorably rate a wine appeals to you check out the Wine Blue Book.
  • The wine wasn't on the market when the rating dropped. After a while I kind of forgot about it and I think other deal hounds did too.
  • The Modus is a much higher production wine. Scarcity makes people go a little nutso sometimes and what's more readily available is less precious. Perhaps there's just as much demand for the Modus but there's less supply for the Carlisle so the Carlisle is the hotter wine.
Perhaps there was some intentional delay on the part of the distributor in Massachusetts to sell through the 2006 vintage before releasing the 2007? Of course that didn't stop Costco from trying to leverage the 96 point rating for the 2006 in the mean time. I enjoy shopping at Costco but beware of their shelf talkers - they can get rather shady with them. The rating was crossed out in this shelf talker but the tasting notes were still for the 2007 while Costco has been selling the 2006 the past few months:


A couple weeks ago I tried the 2007 for the first time at the Wine Spectator Grand Tour stop in Boston. I thought it was quite nice but the context of 200 other wines it was hard to say for sure what it would really be like to drink a glass with a meal.

I got a chance to do just that La Famiglia Giorgio in the North End last week. We were in a bit of a hurry so table-top signage was effective in making our decision:

They poured each bottle through an aerating funnel into a decanter. Pretty nice treatment for what the waiter called one of the more expensive bottles. $46 at a restaurant is a very nice price point. And I thought the wine was great.

The wine is 50% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Merlot. Ruffino positions Modus as "modern interpretations of historical territory". I'll go along with that. Tons of fruit. Not austere at all. Some acidity. Nicely balanced. Call it 90-93 points?

I spotted the 2007 Modus for the first time at Costco in Waltham, MA yesterday. $22.89 (and no tax in MA). There were only 6 bottles in the bin and the cashier said they didn't have any backup:

Update: As 10:00 am Saturday morning Waltham is out of Modus. I hear they have 100 bottles in Danvers.

If you're in the area and interested in buying some it might be worth giving them a call or stopping in. If not there are plenty of retailers in the country that have it for a little more.

Strictly from a numbers perspective - 96 points for a Tuscan red you can buy for $25 vs. 97 points for a California Syrah that's nearly impossible to find at this point makes this Modus a no brainer for the point chaser. And all kidding aside I think it's a really nice wine for around $25.

Related Links:
CellarTracker
Wine-Searcher

Question of the Day: Why do you think the market reacted so differently to the 2007 Modus compared to the 2009 Carlisle?

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Event Report: 2011 Wine Spectator Grand Tour Boston

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Wine Spectator 2011 Grand Tour made its third and final stop last Thursday at the Marriott Copley Hotel in Boston. The event offered a chance to try more than 200 wines in an expo-style tasting over the course of three hours. Between the high quality of the wines being poured, the chance to interact with winemakers and winery owners, and the lack of long lines, it was the best wine tasting I've ever been to.

Prior to the event I wrote down a cheat sheet of wines I wanted to taste. I didn't think I'd actually get a chance to try all the wines especially after reading Wine Spectator Tim Fish's blog post from the Las Vegas event. At tastings like these lines usually get long and I end up going wherever the crowds aren't. However I was pleasantly surprised the lines for even the marquee wines weren't too long at all. I was able to try everything on my list and then some.

The event provided an excellent opportunity to taste some of the great wines of the world. I bumped into Phil Minervo from Lower Falls Wine Co who coached me to taste through wines in their peer group rather than jumping around.

Bordeaux

What better place to start with a fresh palate than Bordeaux?

With my souvenir Riedel tasting glass in hand I made my first stop at the 2004 Chateau Margaux table (93WS/$220 release price). I thought the wine had incredible texture, was made in a serious style, and had a long finish. Next up: 2004 Cos d'Estournel (94WS/$80). I've always eyed that wine as attainable top-quality Bordeaux. I thought it was very elegant in style:
The winery owner was pouring his 2008 Pontet-Canet (92WS/$105). I thought it was delicious and enjoyable to drink even though it was so young:
The 2005 Mouton-Rothschild (95WS/$680) was powerful but a little too earthy and austere at this point. Maybe even skunky:
From Bordeaux I also tasted 2004 Chateau Palmer (elegantly balanced), 2006 Chateau Haut-Bailley (only 12.5% alcohol!) and 2005 Chateau Lynch Bages (nice fruit - enjoyed it).

Side note: The size of the pours, even for these expensive wines, provided an ample opportunity for assessment. In Massachusetts, a sample of wine poured at a tasting cannot legally exceed 1 ounce and most vendors were pouring right at that mark.

Italy

Next up was Italy to taste some Barolo and Tuscan reds. The 2006 Roberto Voerzio Barolo Rocche dell'Annunziata Torriglione (92WS/$265) was beautiful - and stunningly aromatic:
The 2005 Marchesi di Barolo (91WS/$88) was very well balanced with really nice floral aromas:
The Tuscan line-up was even more amazing - a crash course in the great wines of the region. Some were showing more generously at this point in their development but all were a joy to taste. One of the more friendly offerings was the 2005 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova (92WS/$75). I liked the style, and the 2006 vintage was rated 100 points by James Suckling. I bought some the next day.

The 2007 Modus (96WS/$35) was a wine I was interested in trying. There was a good amount of speculation it would be the 2010 Wine Spectator Wine of the Year (it wound up at number 25). I enjoyed the wine.
I blogged about the 2007 Felsina Fontalloro recently (92WS/$55). It was showing very well alongside very formidable competition. I really like this wine. I asked the gentleman pouring it to compare it to the 2005 and 2006 vintages. He slyly recommended the 2005 for breakfast, the 2007 for lunch and the 2006 for dinner implying the 2006 is bigger than the 2007. Both the 2006 and 2007 are fantastic - I'd highly recommend you track some down:
The guy pouring the 2008 Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno (96WS/$110) wasn't much of a talker but the wine spoke for itself. Brilliant and approachable. Balanced:
 
In the not so approachable camp: The 2007 Testamatta (95WS/$125, some fruit but still quite tight), and 2008 Ornellaia (NYR, tannic beast).
The 2000 Fontodi Flaccienello (87WS/$69) was one of the few wines at the event not rated 90 points at the time of release. The vendor pouring it said Wine Spectator may have rated it higher as part of a retrospective tasting but I couldn't find a record of that. The wine was showing nicely and it was especially interesting to taste a wine of the caliber with some bottle age (many of the wines were insanely young).
I really appreciated that each table was only pouring a single wine. This focus kept the crowd moving and provided an opportunity to quickly see what a winery is all about. When I've only got 3 hours and more than 200 wines to taste that's what I'm looking for.

Pinot Noir

Even though I was spitting as much as I possibly could, I was parched after tasting so many Bordeaux and Italian wines.

I took a break then made a bee line for the Kosta Browne table where Managing Director of Marketing & Sales Sam Lando was pouring. Perhaps more than any domestic winery I was pleased to see them there. They seem to have little trouble selling through their wines and it was a pleasure to taste the 2009 Kosta Browne Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (NYR). Beautiful stuff - my wine of the night. At 14.5% alcohol they seem to have found ways to bring the alcohol levels down slightly while maintaining their rich mouth feel and delicious flavor profile.

Nearby, Adam Lee was pouring his 2009 Siduri Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir (92WS/$29). I liked this wine quite a bit more than his 2009 Russian River Valley bottling I tried earlier this year and will seek out the SLH for future purchase. It's a winner.
 
Oregon was also well represented. Sokol Blosser was pouring their 2008 Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills (90 WS/$38). I love how distinctly vibrant their wines are across every recent vintage and bottling - fabulous. The 2008 Bergstrom Pinot Noir (93WS/$78) showed how you're rewarded for spending more in Oregon Pinot Noir. 

Napa Cabernet

Looking back I can't believe some of the Napa Cabs I passed up. The 2007 Robert Mondavi Reserve was there and I didn't make it a priority to taste it. What was I thinking? I very much enjoyed the 2008 Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon (94WS/$130). It was only outdone by the 2006 Joseph Phelps Insignia (94WS/$200). Love everything about that Insignia with its rich mouth feel and generous fruit-driven flavor profile. For my palate, it's absolutely delicious without going over the top. Cliff Lede was pouring their 2007 Poetry (91WS/$150). Beautiful bottle. Nice wine. 

Wandering Around

The wineries were generous with their selections.  Michael Twelftree from Two Hands was pouring their 2007 "Zippy's Block" Single Vineyard Shiraz (91WS/$110). Catena Zapata brought their 2007 Nicasia Vineyard Malbec (96WS/$120). For wineries like these (which I've heard of tasted their wines before) it was nice to be able to try some of their lower production bottlings.
One of the most delicious wines I tried all night came on a tip from Mike O'Connell Jr from Upper Falls Liquors. The 2008 Betts & Scholl Grenache Barossa Valley - "The O.G." they call it (90WS/$20). Original Grenche? It was luscious and so enjoyable after tasting through dozens of drier wines. I'd really like to track this one down:
Conclusions and Recommendations

What was advertised as a light buffet turned out to be quite substantial. Buffet stations and seating areas outside the ballroom provided a break from the action. Plenty of bottles of Acqua Panna and Pelligrino aided in hydration.

Several people I ran into at the event called it "the best wine tasting I've ever been to." I agree with them. The combination of high quality wines, manageable crowds, and the overall experience made it an event I'd look forward to attending again. It was the kind of thing I'd really enjoy going with some friends, attending the event, going to dinner afterwards, and spending the night at the hotel.

More than anything the tasting provided a way to taste some of the great wines of the world and get a feel for their flavor profiles. I can read tasting notes all day but until I get a chance to experience wines myself it's hard to know what I'll like. Because of this I find tastings like this really valuable. I learn a lot and can focus my wine exploration in new directions.

Disclosure: I attended on a free blogger pass.

Further Reading: A review of the event from The Passionate Foodie

Question of the Day: Have you been to a Wine Spectator tasting in the past? What are some of the best wine tastings you've ever been to? What made them so enjoyable?

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2009 Carlisle Sonoma County Syrah: Best QPR Ever?

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Just when I was thinking "Hey it's been a while since Wine Spectator gave us a high QPR wine to chase after" they dropped a doozy on us yesterday. The 2009 Carlisle Sonoma County Syrah received a 97 point rating - and retails for just $25. Carlisle mailing list members were offered the wine for an even more incredible $19.50.

Carlisle produces Zinfandel and red Rhone varietal wines out of Sonoma. They've been cranking out high QPR wines for a while now so the name is familiar to wine deal hounds.

It's been a while since I fired up the wwpQPR calculator (what's that?) but I thought this might be the best QPR I've ever heard of. Using a baseline price of $30 (the point at which it is relatively easy to find 90 point domestic Syrah) the wwpQPR gives us a 6.05: Outstanding Value. I think that might indeed be the best value I've ever heard of.

Where to Buy

Well, that's the problem. With only 391 cases produced and a faithful mailing list that's been wise to their reasonably priced high quality wines for a while, this one is going to be tough. A quick wine-searcher.com search turns up a few retailers that claimed to have had it for $25 or under -- but when you click through it's all sold out.

Based on past experience with wines like these, we'll see the wine quickly evaporate at retail especially under $40. The wine will be available at high mark-up at some retailers and will be available on auction sites for $50 and up. At that point, it kind of wrecks the QPR. At $50 it's a 3.02 on the wwpQPR: Very Good. Still a nice value but not one to break your neck over.

What to Do Next

Jump on their mailing list. The pattern is clear with Carlisle - they're producing wines attaining incredibly high scores and they're holding the line on price. Sounds like the perfect mailing list to be a part of. Be prepared for a wait: I signed up a few years ago and haven't gotten an allocation.

Next, scour around wine-searcher looking for back vintages and other bottlings from Carlisle. This bodes well for their 2009 offerings and I hear their 2006s were also amazing.

It's interesting to watch the CellarTracker reviews come in for a wine like this. Prior to the Spectator rating coming out yesterday, the ratings are about what you'd expect for a $25 wine from Carlisle: 90-93 points. A note published yesterday after the Spectator rating came out? 95 points.

I've discussed this pheonomenon with friends before -- how CellarTracker is an excellent resource to consult when deciding whether to take advantage of a wine deal. But there is often a high rating/price correlation on CellarTracker since most regular wine enthusiasts like us taste non-blind. Throw in a little 97-point Wine Spectator bias and it often pulls the CellarTracker ratings up a bit.

Definitely a topic for further discussion. I'd love it if you subscribed to the site so we can continue the conversation.

And consider subscribing to Wine Spectator. You can even use airline miles if you'd like.

Question of the Day: Have you seen this wine available at retail? Any tips for buying this wine or similar offerings from Carlisle in the open market?

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Mystery Shopper Visits Grapes The Wine Company

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's been a while since I've done a mystery shopper style review of a wine shop, but a recent trip to Long Island gave me an opportunity to visit Grapes The Wine Company in White Plains, NY on the way back to Boston. Wine retail tourism - I guess that's what you do when your interest in wine shopping borders on an obsession?

I never know what to expect when visiting a retailer like this. After a couple years on their email list I kind of formulated an image in my head that the store would somehow align with the tone of the emails owner Daniel Posner sends out. I've never met him in person -- he was out of town the weekend I visited -- but I think I first became familiar with Daniel for being banned from the eRobertParker forums (something about questioning their authority on Australian wines was it?).

His emails offer high end wines at deep discount, usually after opening thoughts about a regional sports event. Emphasis is achieved through the use of bold, italics, and red letters. Some of the best deals are bluntly labeled CLOSEOUTS!! or DUMP!. Love him or hate him, you've got to give him credit for being direct.
I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of on-the-shelf offerings at Grapes. What I found was a thoughtful selection of wines chosen from the important categories you'd likely want to stock a cellar with. Domestic Cabernet and Pinot Noir, Italy, and France were each well represented, displayed in single-facings with reserve inventory behind each bottle.

There were a good number of wines I associate with mailing lists (like the 2009 Bedrock Heirloom Dolinsek Ranch for example) that I've never seen on retailer shelves in Massachusetts. And a smart assortment of imports as well.

I picked up a couple Pinot Noirs - the 2009 Chasseur Sonoma County for $32.99 and a 2008 Joseph Swan Cuvee Trois for $34.99. Not the most amazing pricing in the world but I can't find these wines in Massachusetts and if I had built up a mixed half or full case I could have had 10% or 15% off.

While I was shopping I was asked a couple times whether I needed help finding anything. I declined - not because I don't think the help would have been valuable but because I don't need any more reasons to buy wine. To me a store like this succeeds by keeping its customers out of trouble. There's no "fat" to the assortment. Every wine they stock has been vetted and it's hard to go wrong - an impressive accomplishment with about 2,000 unique wines for sale.

I had a look inside their temperature controlled area where they have some truly serious, bank account breaking wines. The picture of Daniel on their website has him standing in this room and I somehow thought the place would be smaller based on that picture. As if this were the entire store or something. This was just a small portion of the store however - I understand they have upstairs and basement areas used for climate controlled storage.
About 20% of the store is dedicated to daily drinkers and deals. I spotted what appeared to be a few remnants from recent email offers. The store was tidy with hardly any indication of the direct shipment business they conduct. If I happened upon the store by chance I don't think I would have had any clue they do a lot of direct shipment business.

Recommendations

Even if they can't ship to your state I recommend jumping on their daily newsletter. They're entertaining and offer good insight into why direct retailer shipment is something wine enthusiasts everywhere should be behind. Daniel has done as much as any retailer I've seen to support the direct shipment of wine and for that he should be commended. If you're passing through the New York area I think you'd enjoy stopping in for a visit. Check out their inventory online to get a feel for their assortment.

Further Reading:

Check 'em out:
Grapes The Wine Company
731 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603

Question of the Day: Have you been to Grapes The Wine Company? If so, what did you think? Either way, what's another wine store that's worthy of a little wine retail tourism?

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Deal Alert: 2008 Alesia Pinot Noir

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sorry if this one is gone before you read this, but Last Bottle has the 2008 Rhys Alesia Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir for $39/btl with free shipping on 4 bottles.

Here are my thoughts on this wine from last month. I think it's a beautiful wine. I can't seem to keep enough high quality California Pinot Noir on hand and this one falls firmly within that category. It's interesting to see a wine of this caliber on a flash sale site but it bodes well for Last Bottle. I like the wines they're sourcing so far.

If you're subscribed to the WWP via E-mail and want more timely updates might I suggest you follow me on Twitter (@RobertDwyer) or Like the WWP on Facebook? Gotta keep in touch on the deals you know?

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Value Alert: 2007 Felsina Fontalloro

Saturday, May 14, 2011

We got together with friends last night for one of my favorite traditions: Friday night pizza night with really nice wine. While some see pizza-pairing as suited for simple wines, I see it as an opportunity for a low-fuss meal at the end of the work week and a chance to let the wines shine. This week we ordered from Old School Pizza in Wellesley (review).

A while back, a friend introduced me to the 2006 Felsina Fontalloro. I was really impressed with the wine's versatile personality. It's elegant and plays well in a sit down situation, but it's got this incredible fruit-driven nose that's so friendly and appealing. It's hard not to like.

After tasting the 2006 I added it to my shopping list but never saw it come up at a price I couldn't refuse. Fortunately (especially lately it seems) there's always another great vintage right around the corner: The 2007 is even better.

The 2007 is young at this point, but like all great wines it's still enjoyable even if it hasn't fully come together. It's as if the wine is deconstructed into individual components and it's easier to understand now than it will be in a few years. Like watching a golfer's swing in slow motion.

The initial aromas are beautiful sweet fruit. I love the mouthfeel of this wine - it's rich and satisfying but not heavy. Acidity reveals itself on the sides of the tongue. Earthy/leathery flavors. Beautiful finish. So well put together.

It's readily available for around $45 at retail and for as much as I've bashed Italy as being a tough category for value, this wine makes me rethink that sentiment. There are gads of wines in Napa Valley that have no problems declaring themselves value plays north of $50.

I highly recommend this wine and would love to find more wines like it. Let me know in the comments if you have some similar value plays you'd like to share.

2007 Felsina Fontalloro
14% alcohol
3,335 cases produced
$55 release price

A beautifully put together wine that makes me think twice before paying $50+ for domestic wine. Such fresh vibrant fruit on the nose combined with ample acidity, earth and overall balance and deliciousness - this is really a tremendous achievement for a little over $40. Extremely highly recommended.

94/100 WWP: Outstanding

96 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
93 points Wine Advocate
92 points Wine Spectator

Where to buy:
Wine.com
Search for it on wine-searcher.com
Other opinions on CellarTracker

Question of the Day: Have you had this wine or prior vintages? What are some other value plays in this category you'd recommend?

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Is the 2009 Belle Glos Meiomi as Good as the 2008?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Get 50% off shipping when you purchase six or more bottles of French wine with promo code "drink84"

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No, it's not. At least not for me, of the three bottles of the 09 I've tasted and compared to the eight bottles of the 08 I've tasted.

That said, it's still a good value in California Pinot Noir. The 09 is just lacking that little something extra the 08 had - and still has. I thought the 2008 was a 92 point wine and while the 2009 doesn't reach that same level of excitement for me, it is coming to market at very compelling prices. Whereas I'd never seen the 08 available for less than $19.99 I've seen the 09 for as little as $17.59 at Costco locations in Massachusetts and Arizona.

This price adjustment could be related to an intentional decision Caymus Vineyards (Belle Glos is Caymus' Pinot Noir label) made to drop their wine prices in response to the economic downturn that began a couple years ago. Gotta love a company that has a sense for market trends and eases pricing a bit at just the right time. I've seen Caymus Special Selection drop from around $125 to $99 and Conundrum from $20 to $15. I haven't seen Caymus drop below $55 yet however - have you?
Here are my notes: 

2009 Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir

I was very interested to try the 09 vintage of this wine after thoroughly enjoying the 08 (92 pts across a half-dozen bottles). The signature sweet spice is still there but I also get ample chimney smoke at Christmas. It's a little unusual - we'll see whether I sense it in future bottles. But I still think this is a solid wine. Will buy more for sure.

89/100 WWP: Very Good 

Recommendation: If you see the 08 around buy it. There's not much left in the market and the 09s are replacing the 08s at most all high volume retailers. That said the 09 is still a pretty good play - especially south of $18.

Question of the Day: What do you think? Is 2009 as good as the 2008?

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Massachusetts Lawmakers to Hear Testimony on Wine Direct Shipping, Tuesday, May 10th

Friday, May 6, 2011

Everyone once in a while I get an E-mail I've been waiting a long time for and knock out a blog post immediately. Just now I received this press release from Free the Grapes about an important hearing this coming Tuesday in Massachusetts.

MA HB 1029 would finally, mercifully, allow direct shipment of wine from out of state wineries to Massachusetts residents.

Here's a quick Q&A with Free the Grapes:

WWP: What would you suggest MA wine consumers do to right now to help MA HB 1029 pass and allow direct shipment from out-of-state wineries to MA consumers?

Free the Grapes: We encourage Massachusetts wine lovers to express their support of wine direct shipping in their state by sending letters to the committee’s leadership through our website. Next week we will update the distribution list beyond the committee to include all MA legislators, in order for us to broaden the message. http://capwiz.com/freegrapes/issues/alert/?alertid=34295506

WWP: If the bill passes, how long until direct shipments become a reality?

Free the Grapes: It’s too early to tell. Like in other states, the licensing parameters and common carrier approvals precede issuing winery licenses. To use Maryland as an example, the bill will be signed by the Governor next week on 5/10, but the comptroller’s office is prepping documents and regulations to meet the law’s effective date of 7/1/11. This is common.

WWP: Would the bill allow direct shipments from out of state retailers to MA consumers?

Free the Grapes: No. The bill allows for wine shipments from licensed wineries directly to Massachusetts consumers.

From the press release:

May 6, 2011, Napa, CA –  On Tuesday, May 10 the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure will hold a public hearing to discuss House Bill 1029. Passage of this bill would mark an end to the state’s archaic ban on wine shipments from licensed wineries directly to Massachusetts consumers, according to Free the Grapes!, the national coalition of consumers, wineries and retailers. www.freethegrapes.org

Hearing Details:

What: House Bill 1029
Who: Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure
When: Tuesday, May 10, 2011; 1:00 PM Eastern Time
Location: Massachusetts State House, Room A-1, 24 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02108
Bill Information: http://www.malegislature.gov/bills/187/house/h01029

HB 1029 conforms to the ruling Family Winemakers of California v. Jenkins, which was upheld by the 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in January 2010. The lawsuit successfully challenged a 2006 Massachusetts statute banning winery-to-consumer shipments from wineries and wine companies producing more than 30,000 gallons per year, and who retain a wholesaler. The 30,000 gallon capacity cap was ruled to be discriminatory and the legislature was tasked with developing a remedy.

Introduced in February by Representative David M. Torrisi, HB 1029 is similar to the model direct shipping bill that is the foundation for statutes in the majority of U.S. states, providing legal, regulated direct shipping to consumers. Among other provisions, HB 1029 requires wineries to purchase a state-issued shipping license, to mark boxes as requiring an adult signature at delivery, and limits the quantity of wine shipped to individuals to 24 cases per year. The basis for HB 1029, the model direct shipping bill, was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and supported by the Federal Trade Commission.

Thirty-seven states and Washington D.C. – but not Massachusetts – allow licensed wineries to ship directly to consumers – those states account for 83% of US wine consumption. Massachusetts is the seventh largest wine consumption state in the U.S. however it is one of 17 states that continue to ban winery-to-consumer direct shipments. Maryland Governor O’Malley is scheduled to sign House and Senate Bills later this month to allow winery direct shipping, which will make Maryland the 38th state to allow winery direct shipping.

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